Increasingly we hear and read that amongst the most pressing business challenges faced by small to medium sized enterprises are reducing costs, improving efficiency and providing better customer service. These certainly come through in the survey of 6500 enterprises interviewed for the Sage Business Index report.
It is not therefore surprising to see that respondents, for the most part, view technology as a support for growth; all see marketing, sales and customer relationship management as key areas that can be bolstered by the use of the Internet and online software. The US, Canada and the UK (67%, 71% and 72% respectively) appear to be the most keen to capitalise on technology of this kind with Germany and France (44% and 34%) less interested – even so an average of 60 per cent intend to invest in online in the coming year.
What we found surprising however, is the story that emerges around mobile showing the majority of respondents are not yet fully embracing this channel with an average of 53 per cent indicating they are not planning on using mobile technology in 2011 saying it simply wasn’t relevant to them.
But perhaps if these organisations were asked to consider going without e-mail on the move or could use a mobile app that allows them to see their cash flow status or customer orders in real time, their attitudes might be different. Additionally the mixed appetites for technology-driven advances could be put down to the fact that wider technology issues or trends, some familiar in large organisations have less resonance within smaller businesses. Either way there is certainly a role for businesses such as ours to help educate small businesses on the value and benefits that these technologies can provide. It is an area we feel warrants further investigation and are looking at the possibility of further research on this.
Nevertheless, as varied as the responses appear to be, the appetite to advance the use of technology is there though it has a way to go before it becomes priority.